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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - November 03, 2010

From: Bryant, AR
Region: Southeast
Topic: Turf
Title: Native replacement for middle school lawn in AR.
Answered by: Stephen Scace

QUESTION:

I'm doing a project to help out our green middle school replace the grass in front of the school with something that stays short but is also native to the region. Can you recommend one that I can use?

ANSWER:

Briefly, Bouteloua dactyloides (Buffalograss) may work wonderfully as a native turfgrass for your school's front lawn. Buffalograss is native to much of Arkansas, mostly as a short bunchgrass occupying sunny niches among the giant grasses of the Tall Grass Prairie that once dominated the Arkansas River valley. It thrives in well-drained loam, clay, caliche, or limestone, but it does not do well in sand. More important, buffalograss needs full sun; it cannot survive in shade. It will bear considerable traffic, but it probably would wear thin if used as a playground. It should be mowed at least once a year to keep the sod dense, but most folks mow once a month or so to maintain a tidy appearance. Buffalograss seed, sod, and sprigs are widely available, so there is some flexibility in when you plant and how long it will take to establish a lawn.


Bouteloua dactyloides

You might find our How-To article Native Lawns: Buffalograss helpful.

It occurs to Mr. Smarty Plants that planning and installing a native-grass lawn might constitute a year-long teachable moment at a green middle school.

 

 

 

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